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Wellesley College Research Guides

Fellowship Applicants: Library Support for Students & Alums

Why a Literature Review?

If you are developing a research proposal or a proposal for a course of study, a literature review can be an important step in the process. A literature review can help you determine:

  • What information is already out there on my area of interest?
  • Who are the leading scholars or what are the leading institutions in this field?
  • Where does your research interest lie in the broader academic conversation?
  • Where are there gaps in the study of this issue?
  • Why is your potential area of focus unique? Why should they fund you?

Starting Places

Searching the Literature for a Field

What is "current" literature?

Before conducting your search, consider where different disciplines publish their current research. For science, current may be the last few weeks or month. For humanities fields, current research may be books published several years ago!

Where disciplines tend to publish

  • Science - Peer-reviewed academic journals, conference papers
  • Social Sciences - Working papers, academic journals, conference papers, essays, policy papers, reports, books
  • Humanities - Books, book chapters, academic journals, exhibition catalogs

How do I find current literature?

  • Our library research guides provide suggested databases and other resources for each field of study. Browse by Department to find a guide for your area. Click on the "Find Articles" page on most guides to find key databases.
  • E-Resources for Wellesley alums
  • Meet with a librarian in your subject area for assistance with strategies and resources for conducting a thorough literature review. We're here to help all year round!